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Medieval Robbery and Wounding in Upper Gravenhurst

Volume 41 produced by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1961 is devoted to 13th and 14th century coroner's rolls for Bedfordshire from the National Archives, edited and translated by R. F. Hunnisett. “John Somerset of Simon of Chellington and his sister Maud came to the county court of 11th July 1272 and appealed Robert Atwater of Gravenhurst in that on 29th June, when John was at Alfred of Gravenhurst’s house and intended to go from there to Simon of Pattishull’s house, called Broybur, at Little Cainhoe after sunset, Robert came below the west side of the courtyard of Ralph of Ivel towards the house of Adam of Bowels in the middle of the hedge towards the south side and assaulted John, striking him two inches above the right eye with a “denech” [Danish] axe of iron and steel with a hazel-wood handle, held in both hands, and giving him a wound to the brain two inches wide and two inches long and three inches deep, from which fifteen pieces of bone came out. John immediately fell and Robert gave him other bloodless blows with the axe on his right arm between the elbow and shoulder and around his loins. He then robbed him of a hood of “pers” [perse or bluish-grey] worth sixpence, a red belt with bars of “latun” [latten - brass or bronze] worth threepence, a purse of white sheepskin worth one penny with three-halfpence inside it, two knives, one with a point and the other called “trencher” [a trencher knife for eating with] worth fourpence, a “spart” axe [perhaps a hatchet] worth sixpence, a pair of shoes of cowskin worth ourpence and a pair of gloves worth one penny. John offered to prove or deraign against him as against a felon in so far as the king’s court should award that a maimed man can or ought. It was declared in full county court that, if he should die or be unable to sue through weakness, Maud should sue against Robert as against a felon. They found pledges to prosecute, Andrew of Cainhoe and Adam Produmme of Little Cainhoe. John and Maud also appealed Henry le Drivere of Little Cainhoe of the said felony, robbery, assault, force and aid, Edith Smart of Gravenhurst of force and aid of the robbery, and Andrew servant of Simon Daubeneye and William le Parker of sending and receiving”.

“At the county court of 8th August Maud came and sued. The appellees were exacted for a first time and did not come. At the county court of 5th September John and Maud came and sued. The appellees were exacted a second time and did not come. At the county court of 3rd October Maud came and said in full county court that she had spoken wrongly against Andrew and William and did not wish to sue against them further. Andrew and William, who were present, nevertheless found pledges; Andrew found Hugh Ball and William le Neuman and William found John of Flitton and Nicholas le Venur of Clophill. The other appellees were exacted a third time and did not come. At the county court of 31st October William Atwater of Gravenhurst went surety for Robert Atwater, Nicholas le Hunte for Henry le Drivere and William the Clerk for Edith Smart”.

At the county court of 28th November 1272 Maud of Chellington “did not come to the county court and prosecute her appeal on behalf of her brother, John son of Simon of Chellington against Robert Atwater, Henry le Drivere and Edith Smart, who were mainperned [had sureties collected from them] at the previous county court, but Robert came into the full county court and found pledges, Robert Somerset of Hugh and William Atwater, both of Gravenhurst; Henry came and found pledges Simon son of Adam and Geoffrey some of John of Gravenhurst; and Edith came and found pledges, her father Roger Smart and Robert Atwater of Gravenhurst”.